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  1. 6 points
  2. 5 points
    Happy to finally unveil the new plaque at the entrance to West Lea Cemetery. Many thanks to Craig Leathard (NHS) and Issy Easson (Friends of West Lea Cemetery) for agreeing to do the honours. As usual thanks go to Mike Robertson and the team at Barrington Metals for their usual high standard of workmanship with special thanks to Ethan Brown who takes my raw designs and turns them into the CADs needed to actually cut them out. At this time I think it’s important that we recognise the sorrow many families are going through and the grit, determination and professionalism everyone involved in the fight is putting in on our behalf. I have tried to include as many people and professions as possible but if I missed any I apologise. Pictured, Isabel Eason (Friends of West Lea Cemetery), Craig Leathard (NHS), Malcolm Robinson (NCC councillor for Bedlington West).
  3. 5 points
    Yesterday full Council saw Glen Sanderson elected as the new Council Leader with a new Deputy also in place alongside some changes in the Cabinet. Hopefully this will be the beginning of some normality after weeks of upheaval that has got in the way of delivering for residents. On that very issue of putting residents first, Russ Wallace asked a question about whether the current administration were in agreement about providing funding for leisure facilities in Bedlington given that Newbiggin Sports Centre has recently had £1.5m approved from the Council pot; great for Newbiggin but what about Bedlington was the point. The response from the Cabinet Member was an extremely positive one and in-line with our previous discussions about the need to include leisure in the town centre redevelopment. Bedlington was additionally recognised as a town that had been forgotten and there is a definite commitment from the current administration to address a fact that we all recognise. What was less positive, however, was an intervention from the Labour Leader, who failed to take the opportunity to offer any support for Bedlington and instead was more concerned about asking who had written the response for the Cabinet Member. A FOI request is apparently going to be submitted to find out and I can only assume that the Labour Leader thinks officers at the Council have nothing better to do at the minute than deal with something that has never previously been queried in my three plus years as a County Councillor. So, yet again, it appears that Labour are simply not prepared to prioritise Bedlington. Well, there is no need for anyone to submit a FOI request to confirm something that we already know!
  4. 5 points
    I need some help. I hope and expect we will soon see a community response to this dangerous time we find ourselves in at present. Lots of local people and organisations have been working to put a network together so the most vulnerable in our community have the support they will need. There is one group which particularly worries me. These are elderly people who have been living independently and therefore not necessarily on any list of vulnerable adults. I want to make sure these individuals are included in our efforts! Please if you know any elderly folks within my ward (Bedlington West…..Bishops Meadow, The Chesters estate, Meadowdale estate , West Lea, Red house Farm, Hazelmere, Netherton Village and Shields Road) who might not have needed help previously and were able to look after themselves but may find the current and ongoing situation difficult please let me have names and addresses. Do not post publicly but rather send me their/your names and addresses to: malcolm.robinson@northumberland.gov.uk or phone me on 07779983080.
  5. 4 points
    Between Christmas and New Year I was contacted by a resident of Heritage Gardens regarding a letter that had been received from Northumberland County Council (NCC) on the subject of removing trees from Gallagher Park that bordered certain streets, namely Newby Close, Cragside Gardens and Stirling Drive. The concern was that the trees are a useful habitat for the endangered red squirrel and encourage the squirrels to come into the garden which this particular resident enjoyed. The letter was dated 24 December 2020 and was asking for responses by 8 January 2021 as work was due to start the following Monday 11 January 2021. I felt that this wasn’t giving residents enough time to be consulted on their opinions so I wrote to NCC to get this work delayed until a proper consultation had been carried out. Following this, I then wrote and hand delivered letters to all the properties that would be affected in the streets that were mentioned in the letter asking them to contact me with their views. The Friends of Gallagher Park, of which I am chair, have been trying to help increase the red squirrel population in the park and so this was quite a concern to me also. I am pleased to say that a considerable number of residents took the time to write to or telephone me with their views and I’d like to thank all those who did so. As with everything there were differing opinions, some wanting the trees removed and those happy to retain them as it encourages the wildlife to visit on a regular basis, and I have passed all of these comments on to NCC. As a result of highlighting this on social media, I was also contacted by residents of streets in Bedlington Central Ward who had received similar letters from NCC and also had opinions to share; my colleague, Russ Wallace, has similarly taken the matter up with NCC. All this has culminated in a response from NCC to the effect that the work will not go ahead as had been planned and that a more thorough consultation will be undertaken with a view to listening to residents concerns. I understand that some work will need to be done as the park does require some form of tree management, but hopefully a compromise can be reached and avoid this “one size fits all “ approach.
  6. 4 points
  7. 4 points
    This is the best I can come up with. The yearly winner gets their membership tag added onto the disc for the year.
  8. 4 points
    He was looking for his face mask - Amazon just turned up with a fresh pack
  9. 4 points
    😂 I added a poll (nominations still open). My vote goes to Eggy for maintaining a fantastic gallery and Canny Lass for the quiz.
  10. 4 points
    Let me be clear; there is a commitment from the current political administration to develop a swimming pool in Bedlington. It has been discussed and agreed over several months in response to the changes to the town centre scheme. That an unnamed Northumberland County Council spokesperson has seemingly questioned this is a matter to be resolved within the corridors of power at County Hall and something that needs to happen now. Russ, Malcolm and I have already written to the Acting Chief Executive to seek answers and clarification. Our message is that improved leisure facilities are a must for Bedlington and are wanted by residents It is not acceptable that other towns have the equivalent of two leisure centres and smaller places have leisure facilities that our town does not. After decades of Labour failing to deliver there is at last an opportunity to provide Bedlington residents with a leisure offer that other areas take for granted. This is through funding that otherwise would have been spent on retail and the additional resources from government which were recently announced. If more is needed, then that is where the Council’s capital programme comes into play as it has previously for large scale infrastructure projects across the county. If that can be done for Ashington, Berwick, Blyth, Morpeth, Hexham and Ponteland then our turn is long overdue. Bedlington should receive equal treatment; in fact, more than that is required given unequal history. That is why I stood for election and that is what I am continually seeking to achieve. As a footnote, I have recently received emails from ‘Mary Whitehouse’ and ‘John Profumo’. That is the level of the murky and ridiculous antics taking place in Northumberland at present. I am not interested in petty score settling. Bedlington is my only concern and it deserves better.
  11. 4 points
    I am delighted to be supporting Contract Gym and Fitness in Bedlington Station who again are delivering a Christmas Gift Give Away. Gym owner, Lindsey Jordan, is behind the scheme which is now in it’s third year. Lindsey and her team have been collecting donations of nearly new toys and clothes, as well as unwanted gifts since October. Over thirty less well off families have been supported in each of the last two years and even more are expected to benefit this year with the gym overflowing with donations. They include bikes, games, dolls houses, scalextrics, and much more for children and adults. The Give Away takes place on Sunday 6th December at 4pm and is open to any family in Northumberland that need extra help at Christmas. Track and trace details must be provided and the numbers entering the gym at any one time will be limited in line with Tier 3 restrictions. It is also requested that people “Only take what you need to allow others to do the same.” This is a brilliant scheme from a local business that despite having a difficult year of trading is still giving something back to the local community. Lindsey has done an amazing job and I would to thank her for all the smiles that she will put on children’s faces on Christmas morning.
  12. 4 points
    As some will know all NCC elected members received an email which I read last Monday about being able to access some of their member’s local improvement scheme funding for local Covid relief. This was put in place by the Leader and the CeO of NCC. I was initially highly critical and sent an email to all members and some officers saying my main concern was the time lag because accessing this funding usually takes weeks even months! Given the dire straits we found ourselves in that couldn’t be allowed to happen and I wanted that funding available to use ASAP! I was assured this wouldn’t be the case with this initiative. Last Monday afternoon I visited a local charity and discussed putting together two projects with them so they could access this funding. The costed plans were submitted last Tuesday and almost immediately agreed. On Wednesday after work I started asking where the schemes where and how long would they take to expedite the funding? I was told they were going through as we spoke. Thursday morning and I again spoke to the charity and asked them to let me know when they received my funding. I took that call on Thursday afternoon! So for something that usually takes week upon weeks to get through, these were advanced extremely quickly and I again had to write to all members telling them my experience and thanking the Leader and the CeO of NCC. The recipients of the funding is the Salvation Army food bank in Bedlington and we have managed to put in funding for the next 10 weeks. The other initiative is to do a meals on wheels service to our seniors at Xmas because the usual seniors Xmas lunches will not be able to be held in the Salvation Army building. This funding means we can double the provision! More about that closer to the time. So once again a huge shout out to the Bedlington Salvation Army because whenever I have asked them for help their reply has always been…..how many, when, we will be ready! No doubt others have the same attitude; it just leaves me in awe of their values and commitment to our local communities and that’s why we won’t be beaten and we won’t leave anyone behind!
  13. 4 points
    As some of you will have read there have been some significant changes to the town centre re-development project as a result of Covid-19. High street shops have been suffering for some time now due to changes in shopping habits and it was always going to be difficult to attract investment but that had been achieved with Bedlington recognised as a new market by retailers. Sadly, Covid-19 changed that as the retail sector contracted and some businesses ceased trading. This resulted in my two fellow Bedlington Councillors and myself having in depth discussions with the current administration as to what we could do in order to move the development forward for the benefit of Bedlington residents. Over a period of months, we developed and agreed a new direction for the town centre that would replace elements of the retail with the leisure provision that Bedlington lacks in comparison to neighbouring towns. This will include a swimming pool and a new modern library in the heart of the town centre. A supermarket remains part of the development as do units that will front the market place. With the extra £2.5m that the Council received from the Government for Bedlington there will now be in the region of £10.5m available for the re-worked project, which given the circumstances is something that I am delighted about. At the meeting of full council yesterday there was a vote of no confidence in the Council Leader, Peter Jackson, which I did not support. This was put forward by the Labour Leader who also made a ridiculous accusation that the votes of Bedlington Councillors had been bought by the proposed investment in the town centre. Let me put the record straight on those two issues as I will not be lectured at by Labour or any other political party. I did not support the vote of no confidence for the quite simple reason that no evidence was provided by Labour or any other Councillor that spoke to back up allegations and rumours. In my experience it would be the equivalent of convicting someone without a proper trial and consideration of the facts. If evidence had been presented that wrongdoing had taken place, then I would have voted differently but there was nothing more than references to what had been reported in the press. My Bedlington colleague Councillor Russ Wallace put it rather succinctly yesterday when he spoke: “What we don’t have yet are facts. Until we do, we should get on with what we were elected to do.” If other Councillors are happy to be complicit in what I thought to be a kangaroo court that is a matter for them. On the accusation from Councillor Susan Dungworth that my vote was bought for the investment I find the hypocrisy and irony off the scale. What have Labour ever done for Bedlington? How many decades have they had to build a leisure centre in the town? During the most recent Labour administration the Portfolio Member for Leisure was a Bedlington based Councillor and Ashington got a replacement leisure centre yet Bedlington got nothing. Whilst Ian Lavery chaired Ashington Football Club it benefited from more than £1m of investment as part of the Arch scandal that took place under Labour. How much did Bedlington Terriers get? The answer is nothing and that is what Labour has delivered for Bedlington. The investment in leisure in Bedlington is the result of the hard work of myself and my two colleagues over several months who are motivated only to do what is right for Bedlington. Yesterday was a political side show as a result of Conservative party infighting and Labour opportunism. I have no interest in either and will continue to serve Bedlington residents to the best of my ability and to address the complete failure of representation in the past.
  14. 4 points
    50 yrs ago,in 1970,a shifted ti Stakeford,and a had aalriddy been living in wi me Angel Mother in Law,for 2 years..doon at Grange Park. So a was oot o touch wi Bedlington itself. We had a Chinese Takeaway starting up next door ti the Lord Barrington,on Gleggie's corner. A think it was caaled The Monsoon,but stand to be corrected on that one. A was famished one neet and went up ti hae a luk in ti see wat a cud get. A was faced wi 2000 choices of Chicken this and that....wi Beansproots..etc etc! A settled for an English mixed grill. A waited aboot 20 mins,taaking ti the young Chinese kid aback o the coonta. He was the loviest natured kid ye cud ever wish ti meet. His Brother Jimmy Lee,painted this huge picture of a Leopard in the Jungle...it was like a photo..hangin' on thi waal above the serving hatch..it was aboot 6 feet by 4 feet high,and magnificent! He said do you llike paintings?..I show you some more what my Brotha Jimmy has done.. He pulled a stack of Artist sized drawing pads...like 2 feet by 18 inches or maybe bigger..they were all of big Cats..amazing. A got me mixed grill on a foil dish,it was that big a had ti carry it wi both hands stretched oot,and me arms were aching by the time aa got doon yem...aboot 200 yards. Mind,that,was what aa caaled ...a dinner!! As years went by they moved,and new owners came in...then aal the cats in the neighbourhood went missing...including two of ours...[at different times]. Whey rumours flew thick and fast,and it was reported that they were raided and there were cats and rats in the fridges! The rumours came oot aboot every Chinese restaurant that ever opened!!...after that..the poor guys had a really hard time ti get a decent reputation. It's unthinkable nooadays,but even the Kam Tong was raided and closed doon for the same accusations,in the early 1960's,it was the first time I ever stepped into a place like that ,and only cos we had been playing at the Big Club in Blyth,and me Marra's in the group suggested it. Aa was green as grass..nivvor been owa the plate-ends in me life,so a was that famished,a had Chicken and chips,just that..[nowt else!]...but ordered a second lot after finishing the forst lot. Me group Marras thowt a was a greedy sod,but aa was,and still aam,used ti having a big plateful of tetties ,baigie,cabbage,carrots,peas,and broccoli,wi meat and yorksha puddings...!! This Chinese Chicken meal wadn't o fed me little Black Jess..that's hoo a ahad ti hae a second helpin' !! Me aad Marra at Bates Pit,was a Butcher by trade,afore gaan doon thi pits..[a knew a few gud tradesmen who went doon the black hole for better pay in the aad days..],and he telt me that the only difference between a Cat,and a Rabbit,was the shape and size of their Kidneys,and both could be flavoured and cooked ti taste like Chicken. Whey aav had me share of Rabbits in me lifetime,and aal tek sum convincing that ye cud possibly cook a rabbit ti taste like Chicken..but theor yi gaan! Aam back again folks!,canna cum on like a used ti,me Wife isn't weel at aal,and aam full on caring for her,just gud ti put me oar in again...!!! Stay Safe folks..Cheers! Bill.
  15. 4 points
    Hi CL, Safe and well but in desperate need of a hair cut as all the Barbour's are closed. Good to hear every ones ok.
  16. 4 points
    Good to see our youngsters getting involved with the NCC tree planting initiative. On a very cold and windy day too!!!!!
  17. 3 points
    I thought we might start the New Year with a summary of the old one: Trump Death Covid Covid Trump Covid Trump Covid Covid More Covid Chrsitm …, Nope, Covid New Yea …, Nope, Brexit Don’t expect any New Year resolutions from me. I intend being the same awkward, cantankerous, irritating, sarcastic delight you’ve all come to know and love! Wishing you all a 2021 filled with good health, love and happiness. PS. Happy Birthday for tomorrow 3G
  18. 3 points
    @Canny lass - Happy New Year from Trotter - The dog ---------------- and Wilf
  19. 3 points
    Champion😇 All the best for 2021 to every member of this group.🌝
  20. 3 points
    Police are warning: all men who frequent clubs, party goers and unsuspecting bar regulars to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink by any woman. A date rape drug on the market called “beer” is used by many females to target unsuspecting men. The drug is generally found in liquid form and is now available almost everywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, from taps and even large kegs. “Beer” is used by female sexual predators at parties and in bars to persuade their male victims to go home and have sex with them. Typically, a woman needs only to persuade a guy to consume a few units of “beer” and then simply ask him home for no-strings-attached sex. Men are rendered helpless against this approach. After several “beers” men will often succumb to her overtures and perform sexual acts on horrific looking women to whom they would never normally be attracted. After drinking “beer” men often wake up with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that something bad occurred. At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life savings in a familiar scam known as a “relationship”. It has been reported that in extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer form of servitude and punishment referred to as “marriage”. Apparently, men are much more susceptible to this scam after “beer” has been administered and sex has been offered by the predatory female over a period of time. PLEASE! Forward this warning to every male you know. However, if you do fall victim to this insidious “beer” and the predatory women administering it, there are male support groups with venues in many towns where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter in an open and frank manner with similarly affected, like-minded men. For the support group nearest you, just look up “Golf Courses” in the yellow pages.
  21. 3 points
    Nominations are now invited to win Bedlingtonian of the year on Bedlington.co.uk and I nominate Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) for keeping this website active. There are one or two runners up although there are no prizes unless Mr Crosby, Wallace and Robinson fund it.
  22. 3 points
    West Bedlington Town Council 2019 - Autum Newsletter - https://westbedlington.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/3.-Autumn-2019-Residents-Newsletter-FINAL.pdf gave info on a Sun Dial for the Bedlington Market Place. Today - John Krzyzanowski posted this photo, and comment, on the Facebook group - Bygone Bedlington John Krzyzanowski Admin · 18 hrs I know this isn't historical yet but for those of you who no longer live in Bedlington I thought I would show you this new sundial on Bedlington Front street. designed and made by a Bedlington man. I think it's a fantastic piece of art that I would definitely stop and look at if in another town on holiday. Apparently Mr Moss spent 4 years on it. Photo courtesy of John Fox.
  23. 3 points
    Merry Christmas to one and all. Have a healthy New Year
  24. 3 points
    Right to left…….. Lorna Moore, Sue Rowley, Lee Madderson and Bedlington West NCC Councillor Malcolm Robinson. Very happy to buy these two new additions for Plessey Woods Country Park. Working with Sue and Lorna from Beach Access North East (BANE) and seeing them at Whitley Bay I quickly realised these ‘all terrain wheelchairs’ would be suitable for Plessey Woods to give our disabled youngsters and adults a better and fuller experience in the Park. Still a few admin processes to put into place but we should see these new chairs available to anyone who needs them from next spring. I’ll let everyone know once we get the full scheme in place and how they can be booked.
  25. 3 points
    Following the consultation on the Northumberland Line the County Council has launched another consultation on the budget proposals for 2021-22. In the current financial year the Council is forecasting a modest deficit due to the additional and unexpected spend linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information on the budget proposals can be found in the link at the foot of this piece but I would also like to share my own views. Like any organisation the Council can set a balanced budget by increasing its level of income or reducing expenditure. Increasing income is always welcome but it very much depends on the source. For example introducing car parking charges in areas that don’t have them is not something I would support. Such a proposal or something similar would be totally unacceptable as it should not be residents that are milked as a cash cow given the rises in Council Tax in recent decades and the current challenging economic conditions. What the Council needs to focus on is other ways to raise income such as the sale of assets that are no longer required. These could be held by the Council or Advance Northumberland and would provide a boost to income that will help cover the extraordinary costs associated with coronavirus. What the Council also needs to seriously look at is its own cost base and whether it simply needs to stop certain things or reduce what is delivered. Councillor Russ Wallace in a recent post highlighted that the Council has an ‘International Team’. As a Councillor of three and a half years I have little knowledge of what that team does or of any benefits. Information online suggests “It will lead to the introduction of joined-up health and care in state-of-the-art facilities in China.” Whilst this sounds extremely laudable is does beg a number of questions including why the second largest economy in the world needs investment from Northumberland for health facilities. More significantly whilst myself and Councillors Robinson and Wallace are fighting for the crumbs from the table for the town centre it is ludicrous that money is being made available halfway around the world. I would therefore argue that this project should be placed under the microscope and if the benefits cannot be demonstrated to Councillors it should be scrapped. Another pot of funding which is a cause for concern is the money that is made available to Councillors for small schemes. Whilst I endeavour to spend the £15,000 I receive every year in the best way possible I am not convinced that it has always been the case in previous administrations or in the rest of the County. Under the former Labour administration I recall that money that should have spent in Bedlington ending up in Ashington. And just recently a Councillor from elsewhere tried to use the money for resurfacing works in his own street. Not only is that fundamentally wrong but it is also the type of scheme that should be part of the Council’s core budget. Reducing the allocation from £15,000 per annum to £7,500 will not only force all Councillors to think much harder but it would also save up to half a million pounds per year. That is a hugely significant sum which can be achieved for very little impact and should be looked at in any case given that some Councillors appear to stockpile the funding over 4 years then rush to spend it with questionable outcomes. A final proposal is to freeze Councillor allowances for 2020/21. The pay of MPs has been frozen as has pay in much of the public sector including local government. It is therefore inconceivable that Councillors should receive any kind of increase in such circumstances. Please take part in the survey and put your views forward. In my opinion it is about cutting unnecessary costs rather than expecting residents to foot the bill that should be the Council’s focus. https://haveyoursay.northumberland.gov.uk/communications/2021-22-budget-consultation/?fbclid=IwAR3XCl1ONb-SoKYTlxh5djpoMspJyccgLcFsWF3C94Sciu-VXsoD3AFTp8A
  26. 3 points
    There have been a lot of positive noises recently regarding Bedlington once again having a railway station. The detailed consultation taking place is a part of that as is the £1m invested in site investigations by the County Council. I am old enough to remember catching a train from Bedlington Station and talk about passenger rail services returning to Bedlington goes back decades. It is something I can certainly recall from the 1990s. The car was king in the three decades before that as more roads were built to accommodate the growth in ownership. However, it became clear that rail needed to be looked at again as congestion on the roads increased. I did think that the Labour government elected in 1997 would have taken the opportunity to repay the faith of North East voters who returned 28 Labour MPs out of a total of 30: Wansbeck and Blyth Valley among them. But it didn’t happen and the efforts of the then Wansbeck MP, Denis Murphy, were rebuffed time and time again. That one of Blair’s Transport Secretaries was a North Tyneside MP makes it even more surprising that no progress was made, and by 2010 when Denis Murphy stood down, the only passenger train that had chugged along the tracks was a special charter to see benefits that have yet to be realised. Since then I have picked up on the odd muttering from the current Labour MP but nothing that convinced me that Bedlington would again have a railway station. Given that the end of the line is Ashington, I assumed that the tub thumping would be incessant and heard across Wansbeck from Cambois to Clifton. But I do sense that a funding decision is now close. I took part in a visit from the previous Transport Secretary to Bedlington Station in 2019 along with my Independent colleagues, Councillor Robinson and Councillor Wallace. The current Transport Secretary has posted a video of support over the weekend. I am not too concerned about who politically is due the credit and whether the current drilling of bore holes will have more impact than a conversation in a smoke-filled room 25 years ago. Bedlington as always is my only focus. However, that it appears the funding will be confirmed under a Conservative County Council and by a Conservative Government must be one of the biggest ironies in Northumberland’s political history. A missed opportunity for Labour is a huge understatement in those circumstances. Little wonder the town returned three Independents in 2017 to work with whichever party took control and to ensure a better Bedlington.
  27. 3 points
    Without doubt this year has been very different to any other. As 2020 comes to an close I would like to give an update on what is happening both in my ward and across Bedlington. I particularly want to touch on why things haven’t moved as quickly as we all hoped on the town centre redevelopment. Like all Bedlingtonians, by now I had expected to see steel frames emerging from the ground, but unfortunately that is not where we are at. Coronavirus has played a large part in this. Ahead of the pandemic Advance Northumberland had both ALDI as the anchor tenant and several other retailers in place to occupy retail units on the site. However, the outbreak caused a number of these other retailers to review their plans. In one case a prospective tenant went into administration. Therefore, from a point where things were looking very rosy, we have had to make changes to the project. These changes were reported earlier in the year and I am particularly delighted that given the reduced demand for space from retailers, improved leisure facilities are now a key part of the town centre redevelopment. In my opinion, these changes are more suited to the needs of residents and will result in a much better overall outcome for Bedlington. Given the ongoing eyesore that is our town centre, along with fellow Bedlington Independent Councillors Bill Crosby and Malcolm Robinson, I am continuing to make the case to the County Council for funding to be made available to advance the revised scheme as quickly as is possible. I have again written today to the Council’s Chief Executive and Leader to remind them of this. As always, requests for funding are difficult when budget cuts are having to be made. However, this assumes all current budgets are not only spent but spent well. For instance, if the Council can invest in an ‘International Team’, it can certainly invest in Bedlington. Equally, any unspent Members Allowance funding, rather than be clawed back, should be transferred to current projects which can deliver. Returning to the retail element of the scheme, ALDI remains as the anchor tenant and I fully expect the deal to bring them to Bedlington to be signed off soon. At that point we will at last see activity taking place on site. A short build time is expected to allow the store to open well before the end of 2021. In the meantime, the leisure part of the scheme will continue to be developed and I will provide an update on the funding situation whenever I can. I mentioned above the need for the scheme to be tailored to the need of the town. With that in mind, the public consultation, in whatever form possible given current circumstances, must ensure that everyone can have their say. The second project I would like to reference is the Northumberland Line. Having taken part in a visit from a former Transport Secretary to Bedlington Station in 2019, I am increasingly optimistic on this project being delivered. After all the promises that weren’t kept and the photographs of politicians longingly looking up the track for a train that never arrived, I never thought it would happen. However, progress at last seems to have been made and this will be an excellent achievement for the County Council The key factor at Bedlington Station will be having enough parking to serve the rest of the town but if that can be provided, I am sure the project will be a great success. As someone who lived on Bower Grange for over 20 years, I am well aware of the positive impact that the increased footfall will have on the economy of the Station. There have certainly been some setbacks in 2020 but as it draws to a close, I am increasingly confident of a much better 2021 for Bedlington.
  28. 3 points
    As you know, I'm a part of the 95% who don't live in Bedlington and that's just one good reason why I appreciate so very much the input of people like Malcolm Robinson and Russ Wallace who do their best to ensure transparency in local politics by keeping us informed. Once a Bedlingtonian, always a Bedlingtonian!
  29. 3 points
    @Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) I totally agree about the changing nature of the high street and I know that it is a difficult time to be looking at opening new retail premises. As I understand it, aside from Aldi, all the other prospective tenants have now pulled out of the scheme. I was hugely encouraged to see the prospect of new leisure facilities seemingly being agreed, however the prospect of that seems to be receding. That said, Amble has had a new retail centre developed from consultation through to the tills ringing in their first cash in 18 months, developed by the same people entrusted with the future of our town, so if that can be done why not Bedlington? I do think that Bedlington needs some kind of attraction besides retail to bring footfall to the town - without that, small retail is doomed to fail in the light of online shopping habits. The problem seems to be that we're not allowed to compete with neighbouring towns for things like cinemas. It really saddens me that 95% of the posts on this website are about Bedlington's past not its future, but maybe that's part of the answer - build on the strong sense of history in the town with a museum and heritage centre and events space - hell there's a world-famous breed of dog named after the place - maybe relocate the family history archives from Woodhorn. Throw in a cafe, a 150 seater multi-use auditorium the can be used as a theatre or cinema screen, a new library and council services section and you have a hub that isn't fighting a losing battle with Amazon and eBay. But if all else fails, if there is no sign of any development work this time next year, can Advance just rip up the concrete, move in some topsoil and grass and a few trees, dig a decent size lake and put some of those snazzy Bedlington Terrier benches in and at least we can get some use out of our town centre rather than having it fenced off.
  30. 3 points
    “Puns” to make you smile 1. A SIGN IN A SHOE REPAIR STORE: We will heel you We will save your sole We will even dye for you. 2 A SIGN ON A BLINDS AND CURTAIN TRUCK: “Blind man driving.” 3. Sign over a Gynecologist's Office: "Dr. Jones, at your cervix.” 4. In a Podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels.” 5. On a Septic Tank Truck: Yesterday's Meals on Wheels 6. At an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place.” 7. On a Plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed.” 8. On another Plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.” 9. At a Tire Shop: "Invite us to your next blowout.” 10. On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts.” 11. In a Non-smoking Area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and will take appropriate action.” 12. On a Maternity Room door: "Push. Push. Push.” 13. At a Car Dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet - miss a car payment.” 14. Outside a Muffler Shop: ...they really mean silencer... "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.” 15. In a Veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!” 16. At the Electric Company: "We would be delighted if you send in your payment on time. However, if you don't, YOU will be de-lighted.” 17. In a Restaurant window: "Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.” 18. In the front yard of a Funeral Home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait.” 19. At a Propane Filling Station: "Thank Heaven for little grills.” 20. And the last...; Sign on the back of another Septic Tank Truck: “Caution - This Truck is full of Political Promises”
  31. 3 points
    Alan, The truck is in a tent style garage at the side of my house, unheated. The car is in my attached garage, heated. The ambulance belongs to my doctor and it is in his heated garage, He also has a 1915 touring he moved to another garage for the winter, I think his wife wanted an indoor space for the winter! I drive the car quite often but not in the rain!
  32. 3 points
    I tried to warn my now deceased mate about the dangers of playing Russian roulette, but it was in one ear and out of the other.
  33. 3 points
    1. Which former pop-star owned the company that made The Life of Brian and had a one line part in a crowd scene? Answer = 2. What can be upside down, ginger or Dundee? Answer = 3. Which country hosted the summer Olympics in 1932? Answer = 4. What occupation is involved with stretchers and headers? Answer = 5. On which river does Amsterdam stand? Answer = 6. What is the millionth of a metre called? Answer = 7. Who is the prime minister of France? Answer = 8. What sort of drink is pekoe? Answer = 9. Who had a pet chimp called Chee Chee? Answer = 10. Which Bridge on the River Thames has a central portion that can be raised to allow ships into London? Answer = 11. Which sports commentator talked of an ‘up and under’ and an ‘early bath’? Answer = 12. What is a dirndl? Answer = I’ll bet you didn’t know …. The first advert on Radio Luxembourg was for a laxative. Answer = I didn’t. I wonder if the same laxative advert was broadcast on radio Caroline?
  34. 3 points
    Hi everyone I have been looking into the history of the Hall but things seem to get even murkier the deeper I look. There is a big difference on the basic facts of the house between the newspaper article reposted by Alan Edgar on May 3rd and Evan Martin's book "Bedlingtonshire Remembered". When was the house built? The newspaper article says 1844, Evan Martin says 1824. (As it appears on the 1842 Tithe Map I am awarding this one to Evan Martin). Who built the house? The newspaper article says John Birkenshaw who later sold it to Michael Longridge. Evan Martin says Michael Longridge. When was it demolished? The newspaper article says c.1958. Evan Martin says 1949. As Ovalteeny remembers living there in the 1950's I am awarding this one to the newspaper article. Anyone with further information who can correct any of this for the record?
  35. 3 points
    I was a cub from 1954 at the age of 5 until I left as a Queens scout at the age of 17 when those things that wear skirts became more interesting! During my time there the building went from a wooden hut to a brick building with the work beginning around 1964-5. The building was built by Phillipson builders who were based behind Bridge Terrace at the station. The plumbing and heating works were carried out by Henderson Plumbers who had their yard behind Jubilee Terrace. A gas boiler was installed with radiators throughout. Much better than the paraffin fuelled portable heaters with a circular wick that were used. A ladies toilet was added and a new kitchen complete with running hot water. I cannot remember the name of the electrical company at this time but may have had a shop where Sonia's is now. An electrician called Brian Metcalf may have worked on the building. I think the new building was built down to a price. The workmanship was good but the bricks used were not the best or near the best though all other materials were good quality. Money for the new building was raised via jumble sales, beetle drives, bob-a-job, raffles, carol singing at xmas and any other way possible. The only 'ghostly noises' I can think of were creaking sounds in the wooden hut when the wind blew hard. Perhaps others felt differently but I'm like eggy as regards the paranormal and I'm not frightened in the dark. That branch of the scouts was officially designated The 1st Bedlington Station, 15th Bedlingtonshire troop. Blue and yellow neckerchief's were worn as part of the uniform. Walter Gregg was chairman or president. Here's a story. On one of the weekly Friday evening meetings in the wooden hut one of the those portable paraffin heaters suddenly flared up with flames going up 3ft. One of the scouts(no names, no pack drill) grabbed a bucket of water and threw it on the heater. This is , of course, absolutely the wrong thing to do. The flame immediately went from 3ft up to the ceiling and turned along the ceiling in every direction. The ceiling was painted with gloss paint so very quickly the hall filled with black acrid choking smoke. The scouts were soon evacuating though the windows as well as the main door. The scout master grabbed a fire extinguisher and bravely got the flames under control. I don't know how he managed to withstand the conditions. The whole place stunk for months. One of the sign boards on the outside wall indicates it is still a cub/scout meeting place so must be a shared venue. My time spent in either building brings back happy memories.
  36. 3 points
    Bringing us up to the present day ... The Anglo-Saxon word halig, meaning “of good augury” (a good sign/omen) or “inviolate” (free or safe from injury or bad health), was already in use in Old English and there is good evidence to support a theory that it adopted some religious significance during the Middle English period (1100-1450). We find this evidence very near to home – in Durham. William M Aird in his work, St Cuthbert and the Normans: The Church of Durham, 1071-1153 (1998), tells us of Cuthbert’s importance in defining the identity of those who lived in the “Liberty of Durham”, an area of private jurisdiction not directly administered by the king but by someone who enjoyed the same, or similar, rights – in this case the Bishop of Durham. Cuthbert, Aird says, became an important symbol of the autonomy of the area and because of this the people living there became known as the “Haliwerfolc”. Knowing what we know so far, it’s not too difficult to break that word down into its component parts: haliw-er-folc. Haliw is the OE word halig, the letter ‘g’ having been replaced by ‘w’ in an attempt to reproduce the ‘hockle’ sound which I discussed earlier. Er is a Middle English genitive implying a connection to (rather than ownership of) a thing or person and no prizes for guessing that folc means folk. From this we can see that at the beginning of the Middle English period the word halig has acquired a definite religious significance. There are some who believe there is a relationship between ‘whole’ and ‘holy’ and that the religious sense of holy may have developed from keeping believers spiritually whole. https://www.google.com/search?q=holy+etymology&rlz=1C1GGGE_svSE562SE627&oq=holy&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j35i39l2j0j46j0l2j46.8504j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 A quick peruse of the Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology confirms that the roots of whole and holy are in fact the same – hal. In retrospect, “whole” and “free from injury” do have a lot in common. Barber, The English Language, a Historical Introduction (1997), notes that already at the beginning of the period, 1100 AD, a few other Anglo-Saxon words were being used in relation to Christianity, among them: eastre (Easter), derived by Bede from the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated at the vernal equinox and hel (Hell), then meaning to cover or conceal. However, halig despite its transferred meaning is still being pronounced with the long vowel sound ‘a’, as in Harley (without the ‘r’). This pronunciation appears to have changed early in the Middle English period in a series of vowel changes which included the previously mentioned munt to mount when some short vowel sounds were lengthened. Several scholars have described these changes, and among them is the transition of the Old English long vowel sound ‘a’, as in Harley, to a different vowel sounding like ‘aw’. Scholars usually compare it to the vowel sound in law but, having heard this sound during my studies, I prefer to liken it to the same vowel sound ‘aw’ in bought but with a heavy leaning towards the Geordie pronunciation of boat. This new sound was represented in spelling by the letter ‘o’ so that halig/haliw became holig and, like Hollen, it eventually lost its last consonant. These changes, I might add, only occurred in the north of England and the reason why is as yet unexplained. My own personal theory is related to influence from the Viking invasions. Southern England continued to use ‘a’ both in speech and writing and later, towards the end of the Middle English period, we find the first recorded evidence of holy in its present form, translated from the ecclesiastical Latin, sanctus spiritus meaning Holy Ghost in the Wycliffe Bible of 1382. A further change to some long vowel sounds occurred in the following period of Early Modern English (1450-1700) – but this time only in the south, more particularly in the London area. In a process which lasted at least two hundred years, and probably the biggest ever change in the pronunciation of English, The Great Vowel Shift, as it’s come to be known, changed the pronunciation of a special group of vowel sounds – those long vowel sounds which are formed at the back of the mouth, like the ‘a’ in halig. The result was vowel sounds which were formed at the front of the mouth, like the ‘o’ in holy which halig became. This was not, however, the same ‘o’ sound being used in the north. This was the result of a completely different process. The southern ‘o’ sound was the sound we now hear in what we call the Queen’s English, or ‘posh’ English as some call it, when the word ‘boat’ is said. So, for many years we had two different pronunciations of the word holy- one sounded like Queen Elizabeth II, the other like @High Pit Wilma. It’s not really known why this major change occurred. Several theories have been put forward. The redistribution of people due to the Black Plague causing changes in the vernacular of London is one such theory, while the hoi polloi’s struggle with pronunciation of the influx of French loanwords is another. A third is a wave of nationalism which swept over England when French rule finally ceased in the fifteenth century. No one really knows. What we do know is that it added to the confusion and irregularity of English spelling in a very big way causing pronunciation and spelling to diverge even further. Many other languages have undergone a similar ‘shift’: German, Spanish, Latin and French for example, but their nations have, through spelling reforms etc. tried to bring the written language nearer the spoken. In England, there is, traditionally, no regulating body for this sort of thing so the idiosyncrasies, irregularities and difficulties of English spelling remain. Thank heavens for that, I say! Without them we would not be able to see and feel the wings of history in our language. Even though the language is constantly changing, no major changes have occurred since The Great Vowel Shift and for this reason I don’t intend to research our words, Holly, holy and mount, any further. They have, to a great extent, arrived at their modern day form and pronunciation by the end of the Early Modern English period in 1700 AD but, it was some years later that the southern variant of pronunciation became the Standard English pronunciation. This is hardly surprising as the seat of power was London. London had always been part of the dominating dialect area: first on the southern border of Mercia, then included in the East Midland dialect area which was later accepted as the standard variant of English much thanks Caxton’s printing press. There’s a saying in linguistic circles that the difference between a dialect and a language is that a language has an army and a fleet of ships. It’s true! All over the world standard languages have arisen from the adoption of the dialect spoken in the areas of power, administration and finance – the capital cities. Time to move on to Bedlington now and a question: Does anybody know of any map of Bedlington before 1806? If you do I’d love to hear about it. To be continued ….
  37. 3 points
    I remembered - to nights one liners :- I’d like to start with the chimney jokes – I’ve got a stack of them. The first one is on the house. Do twins ever realize that one of them is unplanned? I did a gig in a fertility clinic. I got a standing ovulation I have kleptomania. But when it gets bad, I take something for it
  38. 3 points
    First, a correction: “Cnoc an Chuillin (Irish Gaelic) means literally ‘Hill the Holly’ as does the Welsh equivalent ‘Bryn Celyn’ - holy hill”. That should read holly hill and not holy hill. Moving on to the Old English period (OE) 700 – 1100 AD, the Romans had now left Britain but there’s not a lot of evidence to throw any light on what effect they had on the language. What little does remain of their influence is, strangely enough, found in place names. We know that they built military settlements and this is visible today in the names of their major settlements, now ending in –chester which is derived from the Latin castra meaning camp. According to David Crystal The English Language (1990), there’s also the odd borrowed word such as street from straet, but this is of no help to us in unraveling the mystery of Hollymount. I think we can safely say the Romans had no part to play in that name. However, what happened next had a profound effect on the language as Crystal goes on to explain. It was a turbulent time for England with many invasions and this turbulence also found its way into the English language. The sheer number of invaders eventually outnumbered the Celts making it easy for their languages to get a grip on England. England had become a nation of small kingdoms each battling for supremacy and the same thing was happening with their languages. The result, however, was not one united language for England but four different dialects: Northumbrian, Mercian, Kentish and West Saxon. Northumbrian and Mercian came from the Angles, Kentish from the Jutes and West Saxon from the Saxons. The Northumbrian dialect went on to be greatly influenced by the Vikings but it was Mercian that went on to become the standard English which we use today- hardly surprising as Mercian was the dialect of London - the seat of power. As if that wasn’t enough for England to be dealing with, side by side with those invasions another invasion of a more ‘spiritual’ nature was happening as Irish monks arrived to establish Christianity (and monastic buildings) the length and breadth of England. Many of their buildings, Lindisfarne among them, have not stood the test of time and are now in ruins but their contribution to the English language, in the form of the Latin alphabet and many Latin words, has done somewhat better as most of the words they introduced are still in use today. Understandably, most of these words relate to the church: abbot, chalice and hymn as well as many of the words used in church services but some words relate even to their monastic lifestyle with its self-sufficiency in housekeeping, such as: radish, plant, oyster and candle but they left nothing in the way of place names to help explain Hollymount. The Old English period of language development also saw a start to writing manuscripts in this new ‘language’ and those that have survived give a fair amount of authentic research material. The majority of the written material which survives from the period is written in West Saxon dialect but the oldest surviving texts, noted by both Barber and Crystal, are in the Northumbrian dialect: Caedmon’s Hymn, Bede’s Death Song, the poem Leiden Riddle and of course the several thousand names and places in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, translated from Latin at the request of King Alfred in the second half of the ninth century. Credit must be given here to our North Eastern forefathers who never let anything go to waste if it could be saved for later use! Thank heavens it didn’t end up torn into neat squares and threaded on a string, to be hung behind the door of some draughty, outdoor netty, as has been the fate of so much other written material! What a service they did for historical linguists everywhere! Understandably, there were major changes throughout the period in many aspects of language: spelling, grammar, pronunciation, an ever increasing amount of new words and, of course, place names. During the Old English period, topographical names continued to be used and some new Celtic names may have appeared. Some totally Anglo-Saxon names would certainly have appeared as the invaders built their new settlements and some names, like the previously mentioned Cumberland, mixtures of the two languages, would also appear as the dialects rubbed shoulders with each other. However, the Anglo-Saxon invasions caused a new type of place name to emerge. As land was being taken by invaders, numerous settlements were appearing and these were being named after the chieftains or landowners – presumably of high status and therefore well known should one wish to find one’s way by asking. Most of us are aware of a couple of Old English (OE) place name endings: –ton from the OE tun, meaning an enclosure, farmstead or hamlet and –ham from the OE ham, meaning homestead or from hamm, meaning meadow. Barber in his study The English Language, a Historical Introduction (1997) adds -ley from OE leah meaning wood or glade, -field from OE feld meaning open country and several other endings of a topographical nature. Hollymount, having neither ‘endings’ nor personal names to help us, requires us to now break down the word into its component parts – holly and mount – to look for clues. As previously said, topographical names were still being constructed during the period so all hope is not lost. Next, I’ll be reporting my findings on holly and mount and having a look for any connections with holy. … to be continued.
  39. 3 points
    I am not sure if anyone would be interested but I have a copy of the Evening Chronicle for the 7th May 1945. Here is a picture of the front page.
  40. 3 points
    Happy Anzac Day , Lest we forget.
  41. 3 points
    Answers to last Friday's quiz: 1. Wimbledon 2. Egypt 3. The USA and Canada 4. Somerset 5. 66 feet 6. Sarah Brightman 7. A, B, AB, O 8. Bald Eagle 9. Australia 10. 1901 11. Percy Sugden 12. Galileo Galilei New quiz tomorrow.
  42. 3 points
    Answers to last Friday's quiz: 1. Rawhide 2. A bird 3. British Thermal Unit 4. Mark Phillips 5. Chartwell 6. David 7. Polio 8. Jules verne 9. John Curry 10. Disraeli 11. Empire Day 12. Geometry New quiz tomorrow.
  43. 3 points
    Hi Folks! Aav been locked in for five weeks , since me Wife had a really serious Seizure ,the worst one she has had for over thirty years,cos for the first two weeks after the seizure,I couldn't leave her for a minute,as the saying goes,it was full on nursing from me at home. Then the lock-down started,and since then,very good neighbours of mine have been doing our shopping,it's at times like this when the value of good friends and neighbours is very much appreciated!! Both of us are in the really vulnerable category,so are strictly abiding by the rules for everybody's sakes. The positive side is,we have gardens front and rear,the front garden is decent-sized but faces right onto the main road,which normally has a constant stream of traffic,but which is now strangely quiet!..I can hear Birds whistling a mile away!,and last night,under the glow of the street lamp outside our house,I was in the drive,and glanced around when something caught my eye,moving slowly in the darkness. Mr Foxy, [of the four-legged kind!],was standing,brazenly staring up at me,then after a few seconds, ambled away unconcerned,walking on the dry road,cos it was better than the damp grass...[what a pity!] Nowt like having Elk on your doorstep,Canny Lass,but for Bedltn,it's a lovely sight to see! Fortunately,wor back garden faces owa thi back fields,reet owa ti Scotland Gate,and futher owa ti Hepscot way,so it's a wid open aspect,wi aal the birds coming in. So we're fortunate ti have somewhere ti waak aroond,and ti potter on with. Aav got a wee pond in the back garden,and when a put it in,twenty years ago,a asked me [then] fower-year-aad Niece ti fetch me some Stickleyback fish ti put in,cos a aalwis loved them when aa was a bairn. She came wi her Granda one day,after been doon the Furnace Bank,ti thi River Blyth,and she proudly presented me wi a jamjar wi fower Luvly Stickly's. Owa the last twenty yeors,them fower fish have bred,and bred several generations,and aav noo got aboot thirty.[having given dozens away to friends,and released hundreds back into the river!] So a can sit and watch me fish on a nice warm afternoon,for aboot ten minutes,then back ti thi grindstone![nivvor still!] Vic,and Canny Lass,a cud live amang the forests withoot any persuasion!![we did for owa twenty yeors,wi thi touring caravan,farm and Forestry Commision sites,from 1977-on..when the bairns were young..] Aav got me guitars and recording gear,noo that's a hobby that,if a had the time,a cud spend hours and hours...nay..days and days..on a project...multi-tracking,and creating me aan music![which a used ti dae,afore me Wife became disabled,and a became her full-time carer]..nivvor mind,nowt's a bother to me,aam cool!! Me motorbike is an ornament,nice ti luk at! Same wi thi car!..aam not grousing,a feel very fortunate to not be in the same sad predicament that a lot of families around the world are in. Then,late at night,to relax,a watch U-Tube music videos,documentaries,or a dvd noo and again. A divvent watch telly,haven't for aboot thirty years,knaa very little aboot what's gaan on,in the news,except for the latest Govt Briefings,and what snippets me Wife tells me ..!! Wi me health problems a hae ti avoid stress,and a gaan thi best way aboot it!! So that's my life story ,Isolation doesn't affect me mentally,aav telt folks in conversation,for years,that aa can easily mix wi folks,or a cud just as easily live in the jungle or an island on me own!![as lang as a had me guitars and me laptop!] Both me Wife,and mesel,have found aal the comments in this thread really interesting,as ti hoo other folks are coping. Big thanks folks! [First time aav ivvor commented withoot ivor mentioning.............COAL!...[drat! ...a just did!]
  44. 3 points
    Hi Vic, I'm catching up on the D I Y duties around the house/garden although I'm having problems getting bits and pieces because most of the builders merchants will only supply the trade. My other pastimes are watching the missus hard at work , I could sit there for hours on end. 😃 We have no snow to clear here so during her allotted break we have a game of darts,...she's now beat me three nights running !🥵 On the plus side I'd just bought a new car before the current restrictions, It's doing three weeks to the gallon.
  45. 3 points
    Unfortunately I have no idea. It was installed within Facebook on my old Windows Vista Desktop PC and it still keeps it's dictionary up to date but the version/release number is not displayed anywhere. I said above it was four years ago but I think it's more like six + years as the stats show I have played over 4,000 games. When I switch on my Windows 10 PC I will see if that gives the version number. Don't hold your breath, I'm struggling to get out of bed at the moment - my diary is more like Ann Franks = Day 1 Hid - day 2 Hid - Day 3 Hid........................
  46. 3 points
    Had to give the Scrabble up about four ago - involuntary reflex actions of the legs kept knocking the coffee table and destroying the board. Changed games and now play an online version of Scrabble = Words_With_Friends and the board stays intact.
  47. 3 points
    Over 70s are now in home-quarantine for two weeks here (to begin with) . Dug the Scrabble and the Yatzee out yesterday. Fortunately we stocked up on wine on a w/e in Germany a couple of months ago. Also hoping for a bit of good weather (we finally got snow that stayed, a couple of weeks ago) so that I can get some gardening done without interruptions.
  48. 3 points
    Not sure if this is it @Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) sorry about the watermark but the pirates have been selling them again.😡
  49. 3 points
    February 2020. Just into February and already meeting times and dates are clashing. I had to be at Whitley Bay for 11am so I had to give apologies for a planning site visit this morning at Widdrington. I then had my monthly surgery and again quite a list of things to do resulted. I had another Fell-a-Ship meeting today about men’s mental health. Again quite a few representatives turned up all dedicated to promoting good mental health in men. We now have enough groups enlisted to support initiatives within Bedlington. What we need now is for people to come forward to put those initiatives in place with the full backing of this group. Hopefully when people see this sign and banner they will recognise it for what it will stand for. Strategic planning tonight and with only one application on the agenda it might be presumed to be a short meeting. But this is planning and this single application took nearly 2 hrs. This was the Widdrington application and going through the paperwork I did have several questions. In fact as the meeting progressed I had even more! At one point I had to say planners had done their usual and pulled out the trump cards to curtail me getting reasonable answers to my questions! It annoys me when they do this, use seemingly arcane planning law which we don’t know about to answer quite open and honest questions. In the end I agreed with the application because this development was aimed at and costed for first time buyers. I had requested a visit to the old council offices in Bedlington and I had the guided tour today. I really wanted to see just how bad the state of the building is in so I have a better idea of what usage it might be put to. There is a huge problem which seems to have put everyone off this building and seeing it first-hand I can understand why. However it’s not insurmountable in my view, although it will be costly and fraught with legal and technical problems! Yet another grim legacy from the days of WDC! Meetings galore today but first off a MOT for my car. The rest of the day was spent trying to sort out some of the concerns residents have passed to me and for once a few resolutions after I insisted on face to face meetings with the appropriate personnel. I also had the Plessey Woods event to tie up any loose ends. Saturday and the Superheroes were at Plessey Woods. Again it’s another event I can’t attend for work commitments but I’m more than happy to make these things happen especially as it was enjoyed by so many of our kiddies. I have even arranged for canopies and seating in case it rained, thanks Tony! It didn’t and the afternoon was another great success, thanks Charmaine, Danny and the ground staff. Another busy day today with a Scrutiny meeting at 10am kicking it off. One of the main items was the proposed budget and once again Jeff Reid and myself raising most of the questions. I had further questions about the proposed rail link as this was another agenda item. The full cost of this will be in the order of £160+M and we are looking for around £100M off the government through one of their funding streams. Other funding will come from other applications with NCC putting in nearly £30M. Listening to the officer things are now proceeding in the right direction because we have built up a good tail wind with support from most if not all bodies which will input into this. I did have several questions about finance and ownership not least. Also the fact that these new stations, or newly used stations, could and should be attracting economic regeneration in their own right and this was generally acknowledged and agreed. I had a further question about the actual rolling stock which will be used, particularly how it would be powered, given that we have called a climate emergency and we are supporting a huge infrastructure in green energy production. I said not using our own green energy and relying on old diesel rolling stock was such an obvious own goal I hope this won’t be the case? The officer responded by saying electric seemed the way forward and we could very well see the pantograph raised near Newcastle but then lowered in Northumberland where battery power could take over. Sounds like a plan to me! The last order of business was the proposed new arm’s length trading entities NCC want to initiate. Possibly up to 5 new trading companies all controlled by NCC. I wanted clarification as to what was going to be included in any business models (looking at the last time this was done and the associated ‘indiscretions’!) and the fact that it said these would be looking at new income generation, NOT SAVINGS on existing service deliveries! The CeO replied to my questions and assured me she was going to make sure safeguards were in place this time and only trading outside of our existing service provisions would be considered. Given what I have seen of her ridged insistence on proper governance at Advance board meetings I was happy with the answers. This might go some way to respond to my calls for the biggest employer in Northumberland (NCC) to seek out contracts within the private and public sector to generate income and not to solely rely on putting up tax rates year after year. I expect this will be used to create more discord for political reasons but as I was the only member to question this item in its details then once again disingenuousness would seem to be the order of the day. Having now seen the political manipulations in the press it seems my prediction was spot on! Instead of getting to grips with this stuff at committee where changes could possibly be made some are happy to sit on their hands only to wring them in public later! This meeting closed then it was a dash to get back to Bedlington for some tree planting. I was struck at the previous scrutiny meeting where the new urban tree planting initiative was discussed that this should be opened up to our youngsters to get involved with. So I contacted the schools and youth groups in my area and arranged for them to come down, with the environmental portfolio holder, and help plant these trees on the 20 Acres. 29 sites have been identified within the urbanised SE to be used for planting new trees. The ambition is to give every young person in the county a tree to plant so they can identify with it as it grows and matures. That is the bigger countywide initiative as well as planting up a new ‘People’s Forest’. It was a very cold windy day but we had a good turnout of young people to help and they seemed to enjoy it. This is only the first batch which will be going into Bedlington so I’ll do the same for the next lot which are going in behind the Hartlands. I have been asked what sort of trees were used and I now have the list….5x Acer campestre, 5x Alnus cordata, 5x Crataegus laevigata Paul’s Scarlet, 4x Malus tschonoskii, 6x Populus tremula, 5x Prunus padus and 5x Tilia tomentosa. So 35 in all and they are semi mature not the usual wisps. I had to be up at County Hall today for my LAC community chest meeting. I chair this one and again insisted we held this extra one to use up every last penny in the budget, given that is all goes to community groups and voluntary sector. Once again after going through all the new applications and doing a bit of jiggling we spent everything in the budget! As I left I had the chance to collar cabinet members and press them to attend a ‘talk’ I have organised. There is another ‘talk’ being held about councils, democracy and environment with some of our young people, thanks to the help from Leading Link! It’s something I have always been keen to support and I normally go myself and talk to any of the youngsters interested in politics, with a small ‘P’. This time I have invited most of the big shots in NCC and failing to get our first choice of chair I have agreed to chair it myself. It will therefore be something like a Question Time. Great chance for our youngsters to put their questions directly to the movers and shakers up at County Hall and given who will chair it there will be no hiding places!!!! Another Friends of West Lea Cemetery tonight and again a good turnout. This time I had invited the officer responsible for cemeteries within the county and he duly attended. It was good to see how each side can help and interact with the other to get our cemetery not only up to expectations but surpass them! The group has designs on the old building there and this is something we are starting to look at in greater detail. The officer responded to all the questions and concerns which were put to him and in fact sorted some out as he sat there. I had pushed Advance to hold regular Bedlington Business meetings and our second one was today. Good turnout but I still would like to see more Bedlington business making use of the help and advice on offer. Been putting together the funding for the new fence and hedging for the front of West Lea Cemetery and I expect to see work starting very soon. I think this will tidy up the whole of the front of the cemetery, which was the first ask from residents who live opposite, and provide a bit more security. Thanks go to WBTC for agreeing to a contribution for this cemetery project, I’m hoping it’s somewhere we can all take a renewed pride in soon. I have a full council meeting coming up, it’s the budget one, and going through the reports and papers one stands out as inconceivable. It’s the report into the county council planning function. Once again like the Active report and the Arch one we read previously, the more exasperation and incredulity took over. Here is the link……… http://committee.northumberland.gov.uk/Meeting.aspx?MeetID=9674 When anyone reads statements like this you know something is very wrong………. “There is now significant evidence that appears to suggest that attempts were made to subvert these functions in respect of a major planning application, namely the application for Dissington Garden Village. This is clearly of significant concern and is explained in detail further below.” Also…… ” The independent investigation report found that, in respect of the specific planning application (which was for a large residential development of some 257 hectares on a green field site), decisions and conduct in relation to that planning application were not transparent or appropriate.” “It appears that significant efforts were made by several persons in positions of authority and control within the County Council to collude with and secure a 5 number of inappropriate advantages for the planning applicant / developer in the application in question. Such advantages would not be conferred on any other planning applicant in the normal conduct of the Authority’s planning functions.” There is evidence that discussions between the previous executive / senior management of the County Council and the developer / planning applicant had been ongoing and in addition to other discussions reached an advanced stage regarding the provision of a loan, from the County Council to the planning applicant concerned. This loan, for which heads of terms and other correspondence have been obtained, offered the planning applicant an initial £34million from the County Council to fund the development with further funding of 55% of the site value “once outline planning permission was granted”. The ‘site value’ is not clear but the planning applicant has indicated that the site was forecast to “have a gross development value of c.£772million”. This correspondence was conducted by a former chief officer of the County Council, on that chief officer’s personal email account (not that officer’s County Council email account). It is now clear that senior officers within the Planning department were similarly using personal email accounts to transact County Council business in respect of this same planning application, this is further outlined at paragraph 21 below. It would be highly irregular for any local authority to enter into a funding arrangement such as this with any planning applicant. That Northumberland County Council appears to have been offering such substantial funding to a planning applicant – and that the Authority is the Strategic Planning Authority which would determine the planning application in question – may well raise valid questions as to the impartiality and objectivity with which the application would be determined. In terms of financial governance, the values concerned in turn were likely to represent a serious financial risk to public finances.” “There is evidence that the applicant and / or their advisers in the specific planning application were invited / allowed by a very senior officer in the Planning department to write and alter parts of the Planning officers’ report to the Strategic Planning Committee. This report ultimately recommended approval of the application. The applicant was also allowed to view confidential drafts of the report which would not normally be published outside of the County Council. There is therefore serious concern of undue influence / conflict of interest on the part of the planning applicant, enabled by a senior officer in the Planning department having already offered and given significant hospitality to a very senior officer.” “Anonymous Allegations – in December 2017, two anonymous letters were sent on to the County Council by two elected members. However these elected members then circulated the anonymous letters widely, not only sharing these with the External Auditor, but also the (then) Police and Crime Commissioner, many officers, and a number of elected members. The anonymous letters were clearly politically motivated and much of the content was pejorative in nature. Notwithstanding this, those aspects of the anonymous letters which were capable of checking back to facts were thoroughly examined. This involved interviews with officers and elected members, as well as gathering and analysis of all available supporting information. Following this detailed, impartial and evidence based investigation, it was established beyond any doubt that the anonymous letters were wholly without basis. However, that these letters were relied on so prominently in the legal action brought against the County Council and others, again the Authority would contend is further evidence of the spurious nature of the claims made against it in the writ and underlines the lack of any evidence to substantiate those spurious claims.” I’m going to have to question this at the meeting! Full council today and a meeting with the Leader just before to make sure we are on the same page with my sports centre proposal. I have been working on getting a small sports centre up at West Lea for about 2 years now and this is the final push. I have had planners there, sport professionals there, builders and funders and all of them have backed my ideas to change the small changing rooms there into a proper sports multi-use complex. I have negotiated half a million pounds to kick start this and I wanted to know the in’s and out’s before it was put to members in the budget proposals. Happy with what was discussed and if the budget gets approved later we can finally start the next stage in the process. Just a picture that no one in Bedlington has ever seen before! A stand along budget item for a community sports facility in the town. It’s been a lot of hard work and although not the multi millions other towns have had its something to start with and build on. Its half a million no one else has ever been able to get in writing, even those belonging to whatever political party in charge, so much for an independent member not being able to get things done! Went down for full council and I was expecting fireworks on one of the agenda items. I wasn’t disappointed. When the audit report came up and questions were allowed it didn’t take a genius to see who was on the war path and who were battening down the hatches! Several members voiced their outrage at what had happened and I was particularly keen to suggest we needed some resolution to this and previous reports if only for the reputation of the council. I expect to see more fireworks about this over the coming months! I have to say yet another debacle deriving from the last administration, surely there can’t be anymore? As we have seen Active Northumberland report……lacking any sort of competent administration, Arch……lacking any sort of financial governance at all, and now this……..and all done under the last Labour administration, what were these people thinking of? The budget came up and after the presentation and questions it went to the vote. It passed by about 38 to 1 with 25 abstentions! Now it wasn’t that long ago I was accused, very vociferously and vocally, of letting my residents down by abstaining on a vote, even though I explained my reasons why I had chosen to take that path. I was also “told” abstaining wasn’t in the remit of a decent councillor! The very same people were now abstaining en-mass. Might be worth a look at a dictionary…….. At the very least it clearly shows a political whip in play! As it now stands the video of that meeting has been taken down even though it was a live recording and available until late this morning! Also there were plenty of members of the public in attendance at the meeting so if this is an attempt to stop the information coming into the public realm it seems flawed. Two members were named in the meeting for the actions they had taken and I can only assume there has been some sort of complaint by either, both or a political party which has resulted in this public account being taken down! I will be pressing to get it reinstated so everyone is aware of what has been going on. Well the video has been reinstated with only the names edited out. Gets exciting about 22 mins in…………and why they tried to stop me from speaking I don’t know! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDto-qIHd0g&t=1329s Unless and until we get some sort of resolution to this and other past ‘events’ then I have to disagree with the legal opinion expressed in the video. I would be more than happy to abide by any verdict which resulted from a group of 12 open minded citizens which had heard evidence presented to them in a court of law. Not allowing that outcome can only result in more accusations and allegations because there is not a final and transparent result. Just had reason to look at the comparison data matrices for the main towns in Northumberland. Bedlington has a greater population than the towns of Alnwick, Berwick, Hexham and Morpeth but town centre footfall is the lowest. My argument is that there is little reason to walk down into our Town centre, comparatively, until we see the investment into our town centre redevelopment start to bear fruit. Of course we actually need the infrastructure built to enable that! Considering the downturn in the fortunes of high street retailers shouldn’t we be looking to augment that footfall with other non-retail usage? That’s why I keep lobbying to get Bedlington taken seriously as a site for an Enterprise Hub with training and mentoring and even small units for bespoke businesses to try out in. That would help footfall for the retailers in the town, new and existing, and start to make Bedlington a destination town rather than the crossroads it is at present. I hope someone has been listening to me droning on about this and I can only wait until June to see if that has happened! Local Area Council meeting tonight and only the Local Transport Plan on the agenda. We heard the presentations and then quite a few members had questions. One big bugbear came out to not just me but Russ and Bill as well. Once again it seems Bedlington, as a whole, is faring less well in terms of funding than other areas, even though we have meticulously gone through the scoring criteria to make sure our proposals were vindicated, so we have made a complaint! Getting around 1% of the budget for the 4th largest Town in the county wasn’t something we feel we can accept! Further meetings have been agreed now! I had to call into Leading Link today to talk to the youngsters about this upcoming Question Time. One of the teachers led it and we went through some of the types of questions they want to ask. Well it looks like the 5th Column are out again drip feeding their one sided views to anyone who will give them time. Have to say it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest I haven’t kept people aware of what’s going on after publishing a monthly diary of my time as a NCC councillor from the very first month. In fact the feedback told me I was publishing too much at one point! As for taking a role in Advance Northumberland, I said at the time I was accepting this poison chalice if only to get the Bedlington Town Centre development over the line and it may have taken some time but I have brought it up at every board meeting and been party to quite a few tense and terse meetings about it. As it now stands a press report is going out this week detailing the agreed timetable for the works but I don’t see why it can’t all be achieved earlier than listed and that’s a line I will be taking and pressing for! https://www.investinginbedlington.co.uk/2020/02/25/Bedlington-town-centre-redevelopment-update-on-project/ LGPS today at County Hall and again a very intense session not least because of the proposed merger with another body. We have been examining this merger and it has been worked on for the last 18 months and had been agreed at the last full council meeting but we still have months of oversight to complete. So half the meetings was taken up with the intricacies of this merger, the other half business as normal for the panel. I had to leave at noon and had already told the chair but we were just getting to the nitty gritty of a proposed new alignment in our investment portfolio so I had to stay for the vote. This meant I was running late for the next meeting at Ashington. I made it to the next meeting an Advance Board meeting just as it was about to start. Again another large agenda to get through with all of the new governance procedures in place. Advance is now so far removed from what Arch used to get up to its unreal and I feel the popular view that’s its one and the same in its conduct is unfair. New web site about to go live which if anyone takes the time to go through it they will see for themselves just how different the two companies are these days. Just one item to note will be the publication of board minutes something unheard of previously but one which can only increase transparency. Same day and the trees and overgrown hedges have been taken out for the Town centre development. Seems lots of people are saying they are distraught at this action but it had all been listed in discharge of conditions attached to the planning application. Also new trees are included in the proposed landscaping to make up for taking these out. Not only trees but shrubs and flowers are included too to soften the hardness of this commercial development. We are finally seeing some action which can only mean the real build out is a matter of weeks away. Aldi have their planning application due on 16th March after which, if successful, they will issue a timetable of works. I have already insisted the Advanced works and the Aldi works run in tandem to minimise any necessary disruption a build out of this size will inevitably result in, for Bedlington residents.
  50. 3 points
    As the population gets bigger = more children = more schools = all new schools will have to be built away from the town centers = children will have to be driven to school = after 2035 all school will have to have 'drop off points' and 'charging points for electric cars = the world will be a better place - for some. What about those parents that don't have a car to drive their kids to school ? How far into the future can local planning committees plan and get whats best for the area? If the world of automation explodes there will be more people out of work and have time to walk their children to, and from, school. Then the authorities can change how schools teach the children - let the ones who can't be driven to school stay at home with their out of work parents and get taught, online, at home. When will we ever have a perfect solution to any challenges this fast paced progressive world is throwing at as? I know - WWIII, or a pandemic, and that should reduce the population explosion. Or will it. After WWII they introduced Family Allowance, for the 2nd child in the family, so that parents would have more children and therefore more money coming into the home and then when the children grew the parents would encourage them to buy their own home, have a family and get their children educated = more schools = more.............................. When will the merry go round ever end? Not half pleased your the councillor Malcolm, it must be like going round in circles. Retirement doesn't seem that bad - at least you have more time to look for soup spoons.
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